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Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Stinky dog breath is a common occurrence but can be a sign of health issues. Today, our Knightdale vets why your dog has bad breath and how you can help to treat and prevent it.

What causes of bad breath in dogs?

The term "dog breath" refers to something that has an unpleasant odor because our dogs typically have a little bit of bad breath. While it's normal for your dog to have a slight odor on their breath from eating, playing with toys, and simply living their lives, this odor can sometimes become so offensive that it repels all but the most courageous dog owners.

And while you may be tempted to just grin and bear the smell, more often than not, the stink in your dog's bad breath is actually a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are several different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.

Oral Health Issues

Oral health problems are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. This umbrella term includes tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. Regardless of the precise cause, bacteria and food particles will accumulate in your dog's mouth if it is not cleaned regularly, resulting in plaque and a persistent odor. 

If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Although if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline. 

To ensure your dog's bad breath is not due to poor oral hygiene, take care of your pet's oral health and take them to the vet for regular professional dental cleanings.

Kidney Disease

If your dog’s bad breath smells like feces or urine, it can be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is a whole other issue), but may also be a symptom of kidney issues. 

If your dog's kidneys aren't functioning properly to filter and process toxins and waste, their buildup in the dog's body may be causing bad breath in addition to harming the dog's health.

Liver Disease

If your dog has recently developed extremely foul breath that is accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, he or she may be suffering from a liver disease. 

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs

The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they will require. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.

That being said, whenever you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath you shouldn't assume its cause or that it is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since several causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues. 

Your veterinarian may use prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, or even surgery to treat your pet's condition, depending on which part of their body is affected and how severe it is. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the most effective treatment for the underlying health condition causing your dog's foul breath. 

Home Treatment for Bad Breath 

While you aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, one way you can help to treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is ensuring your pup gets the routine oral hygiene care they need every day in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.

You should brush your dog's teeth every day, spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing.

Either in addition to this or if you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate brushing, instead of brushing, there are also a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.

Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.

When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take to help your pup avoid these causes of bad breath.

Some human medications, common houseplants, and foods that are safe for human consumption are toxic to our pets. As much as possible, keep your dog away from substances that could cause organ disease or failure.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed your dog's breath getting increasingly worse? Contact our Knightdale vets to book an examination for your pup.

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Smithfield Road Veterinary Hospital, PLLC is currently accepting new patients! Our experienced and kind vets are passionate about the health of Knightdale pets. Contact us today to book your furry friend's first appointment.

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